Military Mashups: Remixing Literacy Practices


Overview. Through this analysis we have seen ways that the military is bound up in the construction of identity and knotted into literacy practices across a range of contexts in Israeli society. What are the implications of such analysis for our teaching, research, and administration? The answer to this question is at least four-fold:

  1. Attending to Multilingual–Multimodal Texts and Textual Practices. First, this work suggests the importance of attending to multilingual and multimodal texts and textual practices in our teaching and research. In this view writing is just one tool in a wider rhetorical array. In the classroom, for instance, we can see the ways that physical gestures and activities index wider sociocultural contexts. In this manner, this work gestures towards a fully dialogic understanding of all the modes, including gesture, image, and sound. The focus on multilingualism furthermore is important for moving our understanding in writing studies beyond North American perspectives to understand the ways that literacy practices are bound up in wider institutional, national, and global spheres.
  2. Examining Official and Unofficial Spaces. Second, this multi-sited work—which examines multilingual-multimodal literacy practices across an array of contexts—is a move towards a less bounded approach to language study. In making this move it brings “together the writing outside of school and that inside” (Yancey, 2004, p. 308). This move is important for conceptualizing institutions and classrooms as less bounded spaces and for understanding the complex rhetorical situations writers engage in outside the classroom. Arguing for attention to unofficial literacy practices, Cynthia Selfe (2009) articulated that “we need to better understand the importance that students attach to composing, exchanging, and interpreting new and different kinds of texts that help them make sense of their experience and lives” (p. 642). Within multilingual studies, Canagarajah (2006) similarly contended: “it is outside the classroom that students seem to develop communicative competence and negotiation of strategies for ‘real world’ needs of multilingualism” (p. 592). Important then for studying literacy practices is tracing activity across official and unofficial or hidden literacy practices.
  3. Linking Global and Local. Third, this work suggests a framework for linking local literacy practices to wider institutional, national, and global contexts. By mapping Hawisher, Selfe, Guo, and Liu’s (2006) notion of cultural ecologies onto Spinuzzi’s (2003) genre ecologies we can attend to the ways that local practices are bound up in wider global spheres. The military itself is a powerful example (in every sense of the word) of the ways wider social forces exert their influence on everyday social interactions and shape (and are shaped by) the cultural and semiotic landscape. In the classroom, for instance, we can see the how institutional and social structures such as the military serve to structure the space and activity inside and outside the classroom.
  4. Breaking Down Binaries between Physical and Virtual Spaces. Fourth, this work suggests the need for attending to the close links between physical and virtual spaces. As we have seen, the virtual networks (instant messages) were not separate, self-contained spaces apart from the rest of social life but “continuous with and embedded in other social spaces” (Miller & Slater, 2005, p. 5). Central to this study is a focus on convergence culture (Jenkins, 2006) or how the “flow of content across multiple media platforms” collides, intersects, crisscrosses, and interacts “in unpredictable ways” (p. 2). Arguing that the digital revolution is a social and cultural one, Heidi McKee (2008) further wrote, “Merging technologies may create the conditions for convergence to happen, but it is how people integrate these technologies into their lives, how they create cultures and social networks of use that is the real phenomenon at the heart of convergence” (p. 105). Such research suggests the importance of locating studies of digital composing within wider ethnographic contexts. One of the main tenets of ethnography is the situated nature of knowledge and how ethnographic work is always shaped by the positioning of the researcher. This tenet then points to the constructive nature of research and the digital narrative that I have constructed based on my own positioning across a range of contexts.


by Steven Fraiberg